Freelance work is often not for the faint-hearted. Sure, all that freedom and flexibility you enjoy is fine and dandy, but it comes at a significant cost. You’ll need to have all your ducks in a row to avoid spiralling into a constantly out-of-control schedule.
This is even more relevant when you spend a good part of your day working with WordPress. Regardless of your particular role, the software requires constant context shifting, and the wearing of many simultaneous hats. Time management becomes absolutely essential in this type of environment.
In this post, we’ll step through five classic, battle-tested time management tips guaranteed to help you elegantly navigate the chaos of the average freelance day, and make the clock your friend rather than a demon to be raced against.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
1. Win the morning, win the day
Let’s face it — everyone’s definition of morning is different. Some of you might be rising at dawn with a song in your heart, others reluctantly exiting the bed at noon.
Whatever your personal sleep schedule, the way you spend your time before work will go a long way towards determining how the rest of your day goes.
The old saying here is true: “win the morning, win the day.” Take the time to establish a morning ritual that truly sets you up for the day, and you avoid dragging unnecessary emotional baggage around with you —leaving you to work all day with a clear head. With a series of early wins already under your belt, you’re mentally ahead from the get-go, and ready to tackle time effectively.
Check out Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning for the full scoop on why this one change could truly transform your days.
2. Identify your big wins early
With a hopefully miraculous morning already behind you, it’s now time to actually hit the bricks. Bear in mind that you’re likely heading into a relatively fluid environment, where potential tasks could be coming at you from all angles throughout the day. In that context, it’s crucial you identify your main tasks for the day before doing anything else.
Make it a habit to calmly list your three main goals for the day before you so much as open a browser.
This sets the stage for the work ahead, enhances focus, and helps you keep on track in terms of managing time and effort throughout the day.
3. Process email (instead of reacting to it)
Email is an incredible tool, but it quickly becomes a time vortex when not handled correctly. Start with one golden rule: only check email at scheduled times. Your scheduled times might be as often as once every 30 minutes. That’s fine. Just make sure you’re doing it on a conscious schedule, rather than whenever the fancy takes you.
Next, when you do open your inbox, make sure you’re processing email, rather than reacting to it.
This means you’re going in, identifying next actions, and timetabling them. You’re not trying to perform the actual work involved while you’re still in the inbox. This sounds like a small distinction to make, but trust me — the effect on your ability to manage tasks and time throughout the day as a result is extraordinary.
4. Be less social
Let’s not beat about the bush with this one. If you’re working, you should be actually working — not absentmindedly trawling through timelines.
Social media is designed to be incredibly addictive, and absolutely annihilates your ability to stay on any sort of schedule.
Getting in control is admittedly not easy, particularly as a freelancer, and even more so if you’re working alone. Start by actually tracking how much time you’re wasting on social media. Then take whatever steps are necessary to bring those numbers down drastically. Apps such as Freedom can be lifesavers in this regard.
5. Set aside time for building systems
Background systems are the scaffolding that enable true productivity in any field. As a freelancer, it’s especially important to set aside time on a weekly or monthly basis to build and hone your own.
The temptation here is to let this slide. After all, these aren’t hours you’ll be billing anyone directly for.
Resist the urge of inaction, and make systemization a priority with dedicated time periods during the working week attached. The effect on your overall ability to manage your own time and execute it efficiently will be extraordinary over the long haul.
For a comprehensive overview of exactly why this is so important, look no further than Work the System by Sam Carpenter.
Implement these time management tips to work smarter
As a freelancer, time is very much money. If you lack the ability to organize your own time effectively, you’re basically watching cash walk out the door on a daily basis. The good news is that the basics of time management can be learned. It takes time and discipline, but the results are more than worth it.
The time management tips we’ve covered here are by no means the only ones that work, but implementing them will have a radically positive impact on your ability to execute efficiently.
Let’s review them one more time:
- Establish an energizing pre-work morning routine.
- Identify your three main daily tasks before you begin working.
- Check email at scheduled times and process efficiently.
- Stop frittering away hours on social media.
- Always make time for systemization.
Got any freelance time management tips you want to share? Get in touch via the comments section below and let us know!
Also published on Medium.